A guide to pediatric vital signs

For your reference: A pediatric vitals chart broken down by age range

By Alex Bryant, EMS1 Contributor 

As kids grow, their vital signs change as well. In some cases, these ranges may change within the first day or two of life. This makes it especially important for EMTs to know the age of the child they are helping, in order to make informed decisions when proceeding with care.

Pediatric Body Temperature and Fever

While the basic body temperature for every person should be around 98.6℉, this can fluctuate from person to person within a narrow range. Both children and adults are more likely to be cooler in the morning after resting all night than in the evening. A fever for all age groups is considered any temperature above 100.4℉. However, when to be concerned about a fever and take appropriate medical steps varies by age group. 

  • Younger than three months: Seek a pediatrician for any fever of at least 100.4℉. Newborns are especially susceptible to the effects of high body temperature as their bodies develop.
  • Between three and six months: Alert a doctor if the body temperature is greater than 101℉, or if any fever has persisted for more than one day.
  • Between six and 12 months: Call the doctor for a body temperature greater than 103℉, or if any fever has lingered for at least one day.
  • Between 1 and 2 years: A fever that lasts over 24 hours warrants a call to the doctor
  • Children of any age: If a fever reaches 104℉, it is cause for concern. Call a pediatrician.
98.6 98.6 98.6 98.6 98.6 98.6 98.6 98.6
100-205 100-205 100-190 98-140 80-120 75-118 75-118 60-100
90-160 90-160 90-160 80-120 65-100 58-90 58-90 50-90
30-53 30-53 30-53 22-37 20-28 18-25 18-25 12-20
60-76 67-84 72-104 86-106 89-112 97-115 102-120 110-131
31-45 35-53 37-56 42-53 46-72 57-76 61-80 64-83

Use the table above to determine the pediatric vital signs that relate to the infant or child that you are dealing with. Factors such as whether they are awake or asleep can affect heart rate and respiration rate for children of all ages. Blood pressure tends to be lower in younger children, while heart rate has a larger acceptable range for infants than adolescents.

Understanding these ranges can help EMTs make informed decisions when dealing with a pediatric emergency.

Read next: How to use an oral thermometer

This article was originally posted May 31, 2017. It has been updated. 

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